"Europe fears for its lost generation," the Czech dailyHospodářské noviny declares, leading with the claim that the level of youth unemployment is now the highest since the second world war. A report by the confirms that five million young Europeans were without work in 2009, with Spain the worst hit, with 40% of young people jobless, followed by the Baltic states. The Prague daily blames the economic crisis, the rigidity of the labour market and the lengthening of the retirement age for forcing 18 to 25 year olds out of the labour market. Even if it is not yet among the worst hit, the generation who grew up in the UK during the boom years are now confronted with the worst period of austerity since the Thatcher years of the early 1980s, The Independent reports. With unemployment spiralling, and universities forced to make brutal cuts, tens of thousands of student are likely to be left without a place when the new term starts in September. "Who would want to be 18 today?" it asks, when even those who get into college are likely to emerge into a depressed job market weighed down with debt.